This is second in a series of 4 exclusive articles by John Reynard for ConsciousLab:
We were once encouraged by a business adviser we very much respected, to meet a firm of specialist tax consultants from a different part of the country. He believed they were offering something quite innovative and that it would be in our interests to hear what they had to say. We went to the meeting with an open mind. The two partners of the firm arrived, a lady and gentleman, and they presented their case convincingly. They put forward an attractive offer which meant that by using their services we would save significant amounts of tax. Our adviser stressed that he had already worked with this particular firm and in his opinion, they were entirely reputable.
As a prerequisite to engaging them we had to sign an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement. The reason for this was that they had such a unique service they wanted to ensure it remained confidential and would not be passed on to any of their competitors. There was one short paragraph in it, however, which did not make sense. I pointed this out and it was corrected, but I did wonder how such a crucial and presumably well used document could contain such a flaw. Everything they said was entirely logical and the offer was certainly enticing, but there was something in the lady’s tone of voice that did not sit well with me. I could not fault anything she said, but intuitively I felt uneasy in her presence. Combined with the previous error in the NDA, I thought I would look into the matter further.
I knew other professionals in the part of the country where the tax consultants were based and I called them to enquire whether they knew the lady concerned. They certainly did and they were very explicit about why we should not go near her under any circumstances. That was sufficient for us and we discontinued the contact. Two years later I heard that the firm had been dissolved. The lady concerned had been exposed for conducting sharp practices and had disappeared leaving all sorts of debris behind her. I dread to think of the chaos we would have got ourselves into had we engaged them; at minimum we would have suffered a distressing and time consuming tax investigation. Normally I would not have questioned the initial recommendation we received because it was from a trusted source, but my intuition guided me otherwise.
Our intuition knows so much more than we do and it is always seeking to guide us. It adds another dimension to our decision making and the more we cultivate and tune into it, the more helpful it is. Many poor decisions are based on appearances and partial facts, especially if there is an ‘easy win’ involved. Whenever we face a decision with which we feel uncomfortable, we need to check in with our intuition and ask more questions until either we are happy or we pull out.